Three Network Boss Hints at Possible UK Merger; O2 in His Sights?

By Gary Cutlack on at

The man in charge of mobile network Three has suggested there might be some hot consolidation action in the cellular world next year, with rumours linking his company to a possible buyout of the UK operations of rival network O2.

Three's chief executive David Dyson said: "Under the right circumstances the UK could operate competitively with three or with five [networks]," should a deal be brokered that would please competition watchdogs and not leave the UK's mobile world a poorer place. Dyson added: "We are three years into a five-year plan to double our customer base from five million to 10 million. If we can deliver on that plan maybe that makes us more interesting as a target or puts us in a position where we can do something as an acquirer."

The suggestion being that Three might be looking to buy O2's UK business. Three is part of massive Chinese conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, which is't exactly short of money and is currently buying O2 out of Ireland, so there's a precedent already in place. Although the Irish deal is currently on hold while it's scrutinised by the European Commission, so a similar UK merger may also be frowned upon by EU competition chiefs.

However, we'd very much like to see Three's generous mobile data allowances shoved out across O2's footprint over here, so the Gizmodo Antitrust team is happy to approve of such a deal. [Guardian]